Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 12, 2013: State Board of Education set to vote on revised set of Common Core standards

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3000 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 12, 2013State Board of Education set to vote on revised set of Common Core standards

Pennsylvanians Want a School Funding Formula
Press Event Monday September 23rd, 11:30 am Capitol Rotunda, Harrisburg
Every child in Pennsylvania deserves an opportunity to learn, whether they are from large or small, rich or not-so-rich, urban, suburban or rural school districts, charter schools or cyber schools; whether their legislator is a freshman state representative or a senate officer.
Grassroots Advocacy by Education Voters PA; Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley and the Keystone State Education Coalition
Sign up here if you may be able to join us to represent your schools and community: 

One thing that all sides in the education debate in PA seem to agree upon is the need for a fair and adequate funding formula
The folks representing charters, choice and vouchers at Tuesday’s House Democratic Policy Committee hearing in Philly made it clear that they too believe Pennsylvania needs a school funding formula.
If you agree please consider signing this petition to Carolyn Dumaresq, Acting Secretary for Education, The Pennsylvania State House, The Pennsylvania State Senate, and Governor Tom Corbett, which says:  "The Pennsylvania legislature must adopt a fair education funding formula AND provide the funding investments needed to ensure that every student has an opportunity to learn."
Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name:

"We're one of three states that don't truly have a funding formula of some kind that channels money according to the students' needs and where the students are going to school."
Parents, teachers push for new Pa. schools funding formula
WHYY Newsworks By Holly Otterbein, @hollyotterbein September 11, 2013
Pennsylvania lawmakers met in Philadelphia Tuesday to talk about educating funding, just a day after the city's schools opened amid major cutbacks.
Charter school champions, parent activists, a public school student, a teacher and other residents who testified before the House Democratic policy committee all agreed on at least one point: They want the state to come up with a more equitable way of allocating money to schools.
"We're one of three states that don't truly have a funding formula of some kind that channels money according to the students' needs and where the students are going to school," said Mark Gleason, executive director of the Philadelphia School Partnership, which contributes money to high-performing schools including charters.

State Board of Education set to vote on revised set of Common Core standards
By Jan Murphy |  on September 11, 2013 at 6:24 PM
Despite a public outcry about it moving education in a wrong direction, the State Board of Education stands ready on Thursday to vote on a set of grade-level learning goalsthat come with the implementation of Pennsylvania’s first-ever state graduation-testing requirement.
The learning goals, called Pennsylvania Core Standards, spell out what students should be able to do at the end of each grade in math and language arts.
Along with them, the proposed rules would require students, starting with the Class of 2017, to demonstrate their proficiency in Algebra I, Biology I and language arts on a Keystone Exam, or one of the other state-approved alternative assessments, to graduate.
It’s a move that the board sees as necessary to make high school diplomas more meaningful and to help standardize what students are being taught in schools, among a bevy of other reasons.

A Brief Audit of Bill Gates’ Common Core Spending
deutsch29 Mercedes Schneider's EduBlog August 27, 2013
This is a post about Bill Gates and his money, a brief audit of his Common Core (CCSS) purchases. Before I delve into Gates accounting, allow me to set the stage with a bit of CCSS background.

Gates Money and Common Core: Part II
deutsch29 Mercedes Schneider's EduBlog August September 3, 2013
On August 27, 2013, I wrote a post about Bill Gates’ financial involvement in advancing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Though CCSS promotes itself as “state led,” in my previous post, I showed that all four major organizations responsible for CCSS from inception for its principal development– the National Governors Association (NGA), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Achieve, and Student Achievement Partners– have received in total $147.9 million from Bill Gates for a variety of purposes, $32.8 million of which is expressly earmarked to advance CCSS.
One man is purchasing his view of what American education should be.

Gates Money and Common Core– Part III
At the Chalk Face Blog SEPTEMBER 11, 2013 BY DEUTSCH29 LEAVE A COMMENT
My first post on Gates and his Common Core State Standards (CCSS) spending includes information on his paying millions to the four key organizations involved in composing CCSS as well as to key education organizations and think tanks for their endorsement. My second post of this series examines Gates money paid to organizations influencing state departments and local school districts for the purpose of advancing CCSS.
In this third post, I discuss the state departments and local school districts that have accepted Gates money in order to promote CCSS.  CCSS is apparently important enough to Gates for him to force feed to the public via funneling though its departments of education. And since he is wildly rich, he must know what is good and true for American public education. We can blindly trust him, for he has a large wallet.
As to that wallet: Here are the state and local boards (and a single independent school)* that have accepted Gates payouts specifically for CCSS as noted on the Gates grants search engine:

Erie's Barker: Indictment of online-schools boss 'completely surprised' him
By ED PALATTELLA, Erie Times-News  SEPT 11, 2013 2:37 AM
Over the past several weeks, former Erie schools Superintendent Jim Barker has seen his former boss indicted and his 17-year tenure at the Erie School District questioned once more.  Barker said both events have left him dejected. He said he has no connection to the indictment of former online-schools executive Nick Trombetta, which Barker said "completely surprised" him, and Barker said he did all he could to improve Erie's public schools before he left the district in 2010.
"I just tried to do the best I could when I was there," Barker said in a telephone interview Monday.

Teachers in Shaler Area approve new contract
By Robert Zullo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 11, 2013 11:31 pm
The Shaler Area School District's teacher strike ended Wednesday, when the teachers union and the district reached an accord on health care contributions and workload and agreed to enter binding arbitration on the union's request for salary scale increases.
And for parents of the district's more than 4,600 students who will head back to class Friday, the end of the seven-day work stoppage that delayed the start of school couldn't come soon enough.

No deadline for study of merger with Exeter and Antietam, officials say
By Stephen F. DeLucas Reading Eagle correspondent Originally Published: 9/11/2013
Exeter School District officials have assured a district resident that there is no established time frame or deadline for merger talks with the Antietam School District
The statement came at Tuesday's school board meeting in response to questions from Rob Reiter, who clearly opposed the merger.

Pittsburgh - Diane Ravitch. Monday. Be There!
Yinzercation Blog September 11, 2013
If you do just one thing for public education this month, come hear Diane Ravitch on Monday evening – and bring a friend. Seriously. This is a huge event for our education justice movement in Southwest PA and a crucial opportunity to be a part of the conversation about the future of our schools.  Don’t miss this rare – and free – opportunity to hear widely acclaimed education historian and best-selling author Dr. Ravitch speak on her new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools. She is the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education and named by the Wall Street Journal as a “whistle-blower extraordinaire.”
The event will be at Temple Sinai in Squirrel Hill (5505 Forbes Avenue / 15217). Doors open at 5PM. The lecture begins at 6PM.
Do you have friends wondering about school closures? The massive budget cuts? Increasing class sizes and high-stakes-testing? Have them spend just one hour with Diane Ravitch to learn why there is a better way forward for our kids and our schools.

Questions and answers about the District’s budget gap
The notebook by Paul Socolar October 2013 Issue
How did the School District get into such a financial mess?
The $304 million budget gap announced last winter didn’t happen overnight. In fact, the District has faced budget crises almost annually for decades.
The fundamental issue is that Philadelphia is a vast district, responsible for nearly 200,000 public school students in District and charter schools – many of them with special needs – and the city depends on outside funds from the state to cover most of its budget. School funding in Pennsylvania is heavily reliant on local property taxes, and communities with weak tax bases struggle. Unlike every other school board in the state, the School Reform Commission lacks the authority to levy taxes itself. Other problems: a lack of predictability in the level of state funding for schools, which plummeted in 2011, and the city’s inability to collect all the taxes it is owed. 
It all adds up to a big problem raising revenue. Philadelphia’s per-pupil spending consistently lags the average in surrounding districts by $2,000-$3,000.

Karen Heller: One counselor, 2,820 students
Karen Heller, Inquirer Columnist POSTED: Wednesday, September 11, 2013, 1:08 AM
 Let me tell you about Peter Zadro's first day of school as an itinerant guidance counselor. Honest, that's his title in the continuing drama of the Philadelphia school crisis. On Monday, Zadro visited three of his schools. "I was just trying to meet the principals," he said. He spent a couple of hours at each location. On Tuesday, he traveled to another school for the first time. And he isn't done yet.

City to Give Schools $50M by Expediting School Sales
The city is moving forward with its plan to take over the sale of more than two dozen school buildings across the city
NBC Philadelphia By Vince Lattanzio |  Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013  |  Updated 12:28 PM EDT
Philadelphia City Council said they are prepared to give the School District of Philadelphia $50 million in additional funding by taking over the sale of more than two dozen mothballed public school buildings across the city.  At a press conference Tuesday morning, Council President Darrell Clarke said a council would introduce legislation on Wednesday to transfer a funding advance to the district.

State says violence is down in Phila. schools
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer LAST UPDATED: September 11, 2013, 1:08 AM
The Philadelphia School District celebrated some good news Tuesday. The number of assaults and other violent incidents reported in city schools dropped 32 percent during the last academic year, and the number of schools on the state's dangerous list fell from six to two. It was the third consecutive year that data reported to the state showed an improved school climate. And the district said the number of schools on the state's infamous roster was at a "historic low." As recently as four years ago, 19 city schools were listed.

Philly schools off the 'most dangerous' list credit student-staff trust for success
WHYY Newsworks By Aaron Moselle, @awmoselle September 12, 2013
The School District of Philadelphia has a positive statistic to talk about this week. The Pennsylvania Department of Education has announced that only two schools are part of the state's persistently dangerous list.  Lincoln High School in Northeast Philadelphia remains on the list. Sayre High School in West Philadelphia was added this school year.
The total means the district can say it has reduced the number of schools on the list by 40 percent or more for each of the last three years.
"Our principals and school-based staff have worked extremely hard to improve school culture, safety and climate," said district Superintendent William Hite in a statement.
"We know that much work remains, which is why we are increasing the use of restorative practices andPositive Behavioral Interventions and Support. Safety remains a high priority, and we will continue working to ensure positive and safe environments for learning."

AFL-CIO 2013 Convention Resolution 52: Governor Corbett and Mayor Nutter's Attack on Philadelphia Public Education and Public Service
Submitted by AFT, AFSCME and UNITE HERE Referred to the Executive Council
September 2013
Those who work in Philadelphia public schools, represented by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, and those who provide the city’s vital public services, represented by AFSCME District Councils 33 and 47, do so out of a sense of mission: they want to help kids, they want to care for those who are most vulnerable, and they want to ensure that the vital public services that keep our city moving are reliably provided to build a better Philadelphia for all.
But educators and public employees are under attack from forces intent on rolling back the promise of equal opportunity, basic fairness and responsive government.
Governor Corbett and his legislative partisans are leading the attack. While extending $2.4 billion in tax breaks to corporate special interests and political donors, including expanded favors for energy and telecommunications companies, Corbett eliminated assistance to 69,000 financially distressed Pennsylvanians suffering from illness, disability or domestic violence; cut environmental funding by 20 percent and slashed more than $1 billion from public education, including more than $304 million from Philadelphia’s schools.
Right now, Governor Corbett is holding hostage $45 million in federal assistance targeted for Philadelphia schools. Holding back the money is part of his plan to boost his sagging poll numbers by manufacturing a crisis in which schools are starved, children are denied the education they deserve and teachers are blamed for the disruption.
Instead of standing up to Corbett and demanding the federal funds Philadelphia schools were promised and desperately need, Mayor Michael Nutter has joined Corbett in scapegoating hardworking public employees and educators, while continuing tax breaks for large corporations.

The 45th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools
Kappan Magazine V95 N1 By William J. Bushaw and Shane J. Lopez
As 45 states stand on the brink of one of the most ambitious education initiatives in our lifetime, Americans say they don’t believe standardized tests improve education, and they aren’t convinced rigorous new education standards will help. These are some of the findings in the 45th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

Analyzing the new PDK/Gallup poll on how Americans view public education
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss Posted at 11:32 AM ET, 08/22/2012
This was written by education historian Diane Ravitch, a research professor at New York University and author of the bestselling “The Death and Life of the Great American School System.” This first appeared on her blog.
By Diane Ravitch
The annual Phi Delta Kappa-Gallup poll on education was just released and the sponsors characterize public opinion as split, which is true for many issues.
We must see this poll in the context of an unprecedented, well-funded campaign to demonize public schools and their teachers over at least the past two years, and by some reckoning, even longer.
The media has parroted endlessly the assertion that our public schools are failures, they are (as Bill Gates memorably said to the nation’s governors in 2005) “obsolete,” and “the system is broken.” How many times have you heard those phrases? How many television specials have you seen claiming that our education system is disastrous? And along comes “Waiting for Superman” with its propagandistic attack on public education in cities and suburbs alike and its appeal for privatization. Add to that Arne Duncan’s faithful parroting of the claims of the critics.
That is the context, and it is remarkable that Americans continue to believe in the schools they know best and to understand what their most critical need is.
Here are the salient findings:

Estimated reductions in dollars in federal funding to the states in fiscal year 2013 for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part B Grants, following 5 percent sequestration cuts.  Pennsylvania: $ 21,381,079
Sequester Hits Special Education Like 'Ton of Bricks'
Pew Charitable Trusts Stateline By Adrienne Lu, Staff Writer Sept 10, 2013
Since the first day of class for most schools in Michigan last week, Marcie Lipsitt’s phone has been ringing nonstop with parents distraught about cuts to their children’s special education services.  A new round of special education cuts were taking hold, prompted by a 5 percent reduction in federal funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), said Lipsitt, a longtime advocate for disabled children and co-chair of the Michigan Alliance for Special Education.

Will Congress Get Rid of Sequestration? Don't Hold Your Breath.
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on September 11, 2013 9:45 PM
Here we go again: Brokedown Congress is gearing up for its umpteenth game of fiscal chicken, as lawmakers have to craft not one, but likely three separate budget agreements over the next several months to keep the federal government from shuttering.
And yet again, education programs—which have already taken a more-than 5 percent hit through "sequestration"—are caught in the crosshairs.
The latest, completely unsurprising development: A stop-gap spending measure, written by House Republicans, that would fund the government until Dec. 15, doesn't do anything to alleviate the cuts, which are slated to stay in place for a decade. The Committee for Education Funding, a lobbying coalition, sent a letter to Capitol Hill Wednesday opposing the measure because it "locks in the harmful sequester cuts."

“…bringing their (Waltons) total support for TFA to over $100 million since 1993.”
As WalMart Writes Checks, Critics Blast Teach for America
Critics blast non-profit as 'pipeline' for pro-corporate policies like charter schools and privatization
Published on Monday, August 5, 2013 by Common Dreams - Lauren McCauley, staff writer
The education non-profit Teach for America has been under increasing fire recently as critics and alumni accuse the organization of misappropriating their original mission by backing the policies of the "corporate education agenda" that promote privatization, the expansion of charter schools and the undermining of teachers unions.
These criticisms come amidst news last week that Wal-Mart owners, the Walton Family—key backers of charter school expansion and the effort to end teacher protections—donated $20 million to the nonprofit for "recruitment, training and professional development," bringing their total support for TFA to over $100 million since 1993.

War is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength –
Five weeks training is “highly qualified”
TFA looks to capitalize on School District of Philadelphia crisis
Teacherbiz Blog SEPTEMBER 10, 2013 · 8:46 PM
Like many other urban districts across the country, the School District of Philadelphia ended the last academic year in a financial crisis–one that resulted in a “doomsday budget” which cut thousands of teaching and staff positions, eliminated programs, and closed dozens of buildings.  Despite very real fears that the district would not have the funds or the resources to open its doors on September 9th, the first day of classes began as scheduled (sort of) for the thousands of students the district serves.
On their first day of school, Philadelphia students were met with conditions that make academic success very difficult to achieve—conditions that are all too familiar in many inner-city schools across the country.  In Philly this year, classes with more than 30 students aren’t uncommon (some buildings are reporting classes with more than 40 students)–and some high schools are only staffing one guidance counselor for thousands of students. In short, and by all accounts, the district is barely functioning.
Amid all this chaos, Teach for America’s Greater Philadelphia chapter is advertising, on its website, that “Today in Philadelphia, only 61% of kids graduate from high school within four years, and only 10% will go on to graduate from college.  It’s clear that not all of Philadelphia’s students are getting the education and opportunities they deserve.”
As a solution, and taking advantage of the poor conditions that result from financial crisis (just as they did in Chicago, where they’re expanding their presence–particularly with plans to support the expansion of privately-operated charters while the district lays off thousands of public school teachers), Teach for America has initiated a regional restructuring plan that will transfer Camden and Trenton from the Greater Philadelphia chapter to Teach for America New Jersey.  Doing so, says TFA, will allow Greater Philadelphia “to focus our full efforts on the opportunities and challenges ahead of us in Philly” (where, incidentally, TFA alum Marc Mannella is CEO of the KIPP charter network).

Keystone State Education Coalition Co-Chair and PSBA Pres-Elect Candidate Mark B Miller on tap for Bucks County Town Hall Meeting to discuss possible Property Tax reform, HB 76 on Sept. 12th.
Thursday evening September 12th, 7 to 9 p.m. @ Kings Caterers, 4010 New Falls Road, Bristol

PILCOP 2013 Symposium on Equality September 12, 2013
Privatization: Looking out for the Public Good
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Thursday, September 12, 2013 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
University of Pennsylvania Law School Levy Conference Center
3400 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA
Join us for a day of panels, discussions and presentations on what privatization means for communities and individuals, using healthcare, education and land use as examples.
Details and tickets here:

Education Law Center Annual Event Sept. 18th, 2013
Featuring Morris Dees and honoring education advocates Barbara Minzenberg and the Philadelphia Student Union.  Wednesday, Sept. 18th at 5:30 p.m., Crystal Tea Room, Wanamaker Building 100 Penn Square East, Philadelphia

PA Special Education Funding Formula Commission Upcoming Meeting Has Been Rescheduled to Sept 26th in Reading
Was originally scheduled for September 19.  No venue announced yet
To consider charter and cyber special education funding

Diane Ravitch will be speaking in Philly at the Main Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library on September 17 at 7:30 pm..
Diane Ravitch | Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools
When: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 7:30PM 
Central Library
Cost: $15 General Admission, $7 Students
Ticket and Subscription Packages 
Tickets on sale here:

Yinzers - Diane Ravitch will be speaking in Pittsburgh on September 16th at 6:00 pm at Temple Sinai in Squirrel Hill.
5505 Forbes Avenue  Pittsburgh, PA 15217 
Free and open to the public; doors open at 5:00 pm
Hosted by Great Public Schools (GPS) Pittsburgh: Action United, One Pittsburgh, PA Interfaith Impact Network, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, SEIU, and Yinzercation.
Co-sponsored by Carlow Univ. School of Education, Chatham Univ. Department of Education, Duquesne Univ. School of Education, First Unitarian Church Social Justice Endowment, PA State Education Association, Robert Morris Univ. School of Education & Social Sciences, Slippery Rock Univ. College of Education, Temple Sinai, Univ. of Pittsburgh School of Education, and Westminster College Education Department.
Children’s activities provided by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University’s HearMe project. 

Join the National School Boards Action Center Friends of Public Education
Participate in a voluntary network to urge your U.S. Representatives and Senators to support federal legislation on Capitol Hill that is critical to providing high quality education to America’s schoolchildren

PSBA members will elect officers electronically for the first time in 2013
PSBA 7/8/2013
Beginning in 2013, PSBA members will follow a completely new election process which will be done electronically during the month of September. The changes will have several benefits, including greater membership engagement and no more absentee ballot process.
Below is a quick Q&A related to the voting process this year, with more details to come in future issues of School Leader News and at More information on the overall governance changes can be found in the February 2013 issue of the PSBA Bulletin:

Electing PSBA Officers: 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates
Details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video are online now
PSBA Website Posted 8/5/2013
The 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates is being officially published to the members of the association. Details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video are online at

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference
October 15-18, 2013 | Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
Important change this year: Delegate Assembly (replaces the Legislative Policy Council) will be Tuesday Oct. 15 from 1 – 4:30 p.m.
The PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference is the largest gathering of elected officials in Pennsylvania and offers an impressive collection of professional development opportunities for school board members and other education leaders.
See Annual School Leadership Conference links for all program details.

PAESSP State Conference October 27-29, 2013
The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, PA
The state conference is PAESSP’s premier professional development event for principals, assistant principals and other educational leaders. Attending will enable you to connect with fellow educators while learning from speakers and presenters who are respected experts in educational leadership.
 Featuring Keynote Speakers: Charlotte Danielson, Dr. Todd Whitaker, Will Richardson & David Andrews, Esq. (Legal Update).
oN �)l < @� P� e='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'> Featuring Keynote Speakers: Charlotte Danielson, Dr. Todd Whitaker, Will Richardson & David Andrews, Esq. (Legal Update).

Lawrence A. Feinberg
Keystone State Education Coalition
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

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